The first contract made for what was called the Seattle Freeway (now part of Interstate 5) was let in 1958 for constructing the bridge's piers. There were many delays and controversies in completing the project, including labor disputes, a time-consuming process of relocating power lines, and a controversy over the downtown lid part of the project.
It is a steel truss double-deck bridge, which carries eight lanes of traffic on the upper deck and four reversible lanes of traffic on the lower deck. The truss design is the Warren truss, composed of diagonals placed alternatively in tension and compression. Twelve painters with nerves of steel painted the bridge by hand. They applied 10,000 gallons of undercoat and linseed oil topcoat.